December 16, 2010
post contributed by Megan Flynn
"Great nations don't get in trouble because of their people, they get in trouble because of their government" Senator Judd Gregg stated boldly referring to a famous quote by Adam Smith. Friday's roundtable was truly an experience for all members that were in attendance. Although the subject matter was disturbing, it was delivered with a respectful sense of humor. Senator Judd Gregg captured the attention of a packed room by examining not only the problem of our government’s sovereign debt, but its causes along with potential actionable solutions that we all have a responsibility to participate in.
Gregg brought with him an excellent visual presentation to accompany his speech with some very frightening charts and graphs. His presentation explicated the effect out of control government spending will have on the future. The red arrows rocketing off a particular chart depicting debt held by the public (as a % of GDP) between the years of 1960 and projecting into 2020 was astounding. "It's not a revenue issue, it's a spending issue", Gregg said.
A memorable statistic that was presented was the burden a college graduate will face in 2017 if government spending continues as it is now. In January 2017, the average debt burden a college graduate will have to carry is $196,000 - more than double the average college debt today.
The government is spending as if it were generating and making money like a business. Senator Gregg pointed out that it’s not the government’s money to spend. Gregg supported this by presenting a quote from Margaret Thatcher, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”. According to Gregg’s figures, the United States is currently spending $56,000 – an average American salary – every second.
An interesting warning Gregg gave to the Roundtable, was the fact that due to our extreme debt, the United States would not make the cut for admission into the European Union. The EU is one of the major economic standards for industrialized modern countries today, and our numbers fail to make the mark.
Although it was a depressing outlook on what’s to come not only in our future, but in our children’s, Gregg held a positive attitude suggesting six actions that if executed soon, could start to turn things around towards a more fiscally responsible future. These suggestions led into a passionate Q&A with the roundtable where tough questions were presented and answered with consideration and personality. The discussion on Friday exemplified the character of those participating as well as the potential roundtable discussions have to live up to going forward.